Actor Gianni Russo Talks About His Role in The Godfather
Steve Adubato goes One-on-One with Gianni Russo, Actor, Entrepreneur and Author of Hollywood Godfather, to talk about his new memoir, his time with the mob, and his breakout role as Carlo in the movie classic The Godfather.
"This is Gianni Russo. This is the guy. He is the author of a fascinating book which I could not put down. It's called Hollywood Godfather: My Life in the Movies and the Mob. Good to see you my friend. Thank you Steve. I appreciate you having me on. I... the show... I know what you do with the show. It's great. So it's a privilege. Well I'm gonna tell you something. No. It's the other way around. You grew up in Little Italy in the 1940s? Yeah. Fair to say? Yeah. Describe the neighborhood at the time. Because by the time I got there it wasn't... It was great. ...the same neighborhood. I know. I would go down there every Sunday when I can and it's totally changed. No, I meant that whole eight block square where I came from, eight, eight, and eight, was only Italians. That's it? That's before the Chinese crossed over Canal Street. Yeah. But now, you know, most people left and went to the other boroughs, and they... They left? ...made the investment. Went to Jersey? A lot of... Went to Jersey, Staten Island, Brooklyn, all over. By the way, if you did... yeah I know you know this, but Gianni, I just... just to get ready, and because I wanted to do it. I watched the Godfather. Again. I mean, it was just fabulous, every time I see it. Playing Carlo? Carlo. A mean... not a nice guy. How could such a nice guy play such a mon...? Because you...? And by the way, tell folks. Your first acting gig at that? Yeah. First time I ever acted. And your teacher was a guy named Marlon...? Marlon Brando. [laughter] I'm the only person in the world that can say that. By the way, you see him right there? I'm sorry. That's Coppola, that's Al Pacino, and you're right behind. Go ahead. Pick it up from there. That's... we were rehearsing for the christening scene, coming out of the church, and he's gonna tell me, "Carlo, I'm gonna send the rest of the family on to Vegas. Go home and wait for me." Like a fool, I went home, and I waited. And as I read that section of the book... and by the way, if you haven't seen the Godfather, which I find that hard to believe. Make sure you do. As you write in the book, Marlon Brando told you that it was important that you demonstrated clearly that you were afraid. Because you knew your life was on the line. They were about to kill you. And he said, when they gave you the ticket, they were gonna send you away, look at the ticket, quote, "to make sure it..."